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39% of all corn produced in the U.S. goes to ethanol production   (Source:
House to vote next

Lawmakers in Washington are working hard to write and pass laws that would have fuel efficiency standards in the U.S. changing drastically in coming years. While some in Washington support the new standards for vehicle efficiency, others oppose the standards. Along with mandating better fuel economy across a carmakers fleet, Washington is also seeing green and renewable fuel alternatives for vehicles.

In the U.S., ethanol has been added into the fuel we run in vehicles for years. Ethanol is as high as 10% in fuels today and some that are against ethanol, which is derived from corn, claim that the biofuel is increasing the price of some food items in America. A report published by the GAO claims that the use of ethanol has driven the cost of some food items up as much as 20%.

With all of Washington in cost cutting mode in an effort to shore up the federal budget lawmakers are looking at everywhere money can be saved. One place that some in the Senate want to save money is by repealing the subsidy on ethanol. The Senate voted Thursday 73-27 to end a $0.45 per gallon tax credit on ethanol-blended gasoline starting on July 1. According to those that support the repeal, the subsidy cost taxpayers $5.6 billion last year.

Growth Energy, and ethanol association, CEO Tom Buis said, "The Senate missed an enormous opportunity to take real action on deficit reduction and energy policy when it failed to put oil subsidies and giveaways to the same test as ethanol."

On the other side of the coin, Kate McMahon coordinator of biofuels campaigns for Friends of the Earth said, "Senators scored a win for the public and for the environment by voting to end this $6 billion giveaway." She continued saying, "[the Senate delivered a message] that the ethanol industry's days of living high off the taxpayers' hog have come to an end."

The effort to end the ethanol subsidy now goes to the House for voting. White House spokesman Jay Carney says that the Obama administration supports a reduction in the ethanol subsidy, but does not support a full repeal. Some claim that 39% of the corn produced in the U.S. is currently going into fuel tanks. With the costs to reach the proposed 62mpg regulations for fuel economy reaching nearly $10,000, some automakers are calling for the removal of ethanol from gasoline. Ethanol is renewable and greener than petroleum fuel, but reduces fuel economy.

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RE: Duh
By superstition on 6/17/2011 5:11:35 PM , Rating: 4
"Its been about making the price of corn go up to build farming states economies artificially."

Votes and money for politicians.

Money for Monsanto and other companies that have long had interestingly close relationships with the government.

Ethanol is awful. Even biodiesel is likely a better choice. At least it has a useful role when added to ULSD in a quantity of around 1.5%. It improves the lubricity of the fuel to the standard engine makers suggest (460 wear scar or lower). Ethanol, by contrast, just attracts more water and provides worse mileage -- to say nothing about the water pollution from farming to make it, fuel used to make it, and so forth. Photosynthesis is very very inefficient when it comes to capturing solar energy. Alcohols are hardly ideal for fuels because of their molecular structure.

If we want to be more ecologically sound, we would see some of the many fuel-efficient diesels available in the UK and elsewhere. Here is a list of vehicles that outrank the Prius in MPG according to greencar (MPG in imperial):

SMART fortwo coupe fortwo coupe 54 bhp cdi 15in rear wheels [2011] Semi-automatic 5-speed
SKODA Fabia Estate 1.2 CR TDI 75PS Greenline II [2010] Manual 5-speed
VW Polo 1.2 TDI 75PS BlueMotion Manual 5-speed
SKODA Fabia Hatch/Estate 1.2 CR TDI 75PS GreenLine II [2010] Manual 5-speed
SEAT Ibiza ST 1.2 CR TDI 75PS Ecomotive Manual 5-speed, start-stop, Coupe, 5 door
SKODA Fabia Hatch 1.6 CR TDI 75PS [2010] Manual 5-speed
FIAT Punto Evo 1.3 16v MultiJet 85 ECO [from Jan 2010] Manual 5-speed
SEAT Ibiza/Coupe 1.4 TDI 80PS Ecomotive 5dr Manual 5-speed
VAUXHALL Corsa 1.3CDTi 16v 95PS 3dr Hatch [from July 2010] Manual 5-speed
FORD Fiesta 1.6 Duratorq TDCi 90PS +DPF ECO [Post 2010¼ ] Manual 5-speed
SKODA Octavia Hatch 1.6 TDI 105PS Greenline Manual 5-speed
VW Golf 1.6 TDI 105 PS BlueMotion SE Manual 5-speed
AUDI A3 1.6 TDI 105PS start-stop Manual 5-speed
FORD Focus 1.6 Duratorq TDCi 109PS 5dr Saloon ECO Start-Stop Manual 5-speed
SEAT Leon 1.6 CR TDI 105PS Ecomotive Manual 5-speed
TOYOTA Auris T4 1.8 VVT-i hybrid E-CVT [2010] Continuously Variable
VOLVO C30 DRIVe Manual 6-speed, 5-speed
VOLVO S40 DRIVe Manual 6-speed, 5-speed
VOLVO V50 DRIVe Manual 6-speed, 5-speed

TOYOTA Prius Mark III 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid 15in wheel 2009

These vehicles are already for sale elsewhere. Even Ford and GM make some of them. Our fuel efficiency politics are all wrong. Instead of giving people almost $10,000 per vehicle for electric toy cars, why not put some money toward diesel-electric hybrids, especially for public transport like buses? Europe has some of those, too.

RE: Duh
By invidious on 6/17/2011 6:08:06 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the hundreds of pounds of biohazzard batteries that need to be replaced every 5 years in a hybrid.

I am an eletrical engineer and I would love to see good electrical cars. But current encarnation of hybrids and EVs are not good electric cars. They are bastardized garbage.

If granola muching hippies want to buy them because captain planet told them that they can save the earth by recylcing then thats their problem. But when the government starts making policy decisions based on this nonsense it gets scary. Too many people drinking the coolaid...

RE: Duh
By superstition on 6/17/2011 6:27:45 PM , Rating: 3
And, as far as I know, those batteries are still made with rare earths -- rare earths we can no longer mine in the US because our businessmen and politicians decided it's "cheaper" to get them from China.

China, now that it controls the entire rare earths market, has already threatened an embargo and, as far as I know, is restricting their export. People say we're still in Afghanistan (and will be for decades or more) because of its untouched cache of rare earths. Perhaps, but what are we supposed to do right now? From what I've read it will still take years to get our mines back in operation here. If it takes that long to reopen existing mines, I imagine it will take quite a bit longer to get anything out of Afghanistan.

So, our politicians decide to cede the rare earths market to a hostile China. Then, as China is beginning to hold us hostage over rare earths, the US subsidizes hybrids (and now all-electric cars which are even more dependent upon batteries). The tax break for buying diesels is gone, and we still don't have any of the most efficient diesels in our market, including vehicles made by Ford and GM.

Something smells quite rotten to me. Now that I just read about all the Chinese junk parts the military has been buying I am convinced that our political-business nexus is so corrupt that the US is not far from fully becoming merely a shell game for "globalized", not national, interests. Even our military is buying Chinese junk parts.

Maybe some of these newer all-electrics have transitioned away from reliance upon rare earths for their batteries, but I haven't heard much about that if that's the case.

What I'd like is a small very efficient well-made American-made clean diesel car that has no Chinese parts in it at all. And, our fuel standard needs to improve. 40 cetane is not ideal, and the lubricity standard of 520 contradicts even engine manufacturers' 460 max standard.

RE: Duh
By FishTankX on 6/20/2011 10:09:47 AM , Rating: 2
I'd just like to add that rare earths aren't generally used in battery manufacture, they're used in the production of the electric motors linked to the batteries.

RE: Duh
By jabber on 6/20/2011 12:41:56 PM , Rating: 2

Would you buy a 5 year old Prius or a VW Golf?

Would you buy a 10 year old Prius or a VW Golf?

What is the deal re. second hand values of electric cars that need new batteries every few years?

RE: Duh
By YashBudini on 6/21/2011 12:00:19 AM , Rating: 2
Would you buy a xx year old Prius or a VW Golf?

Seriously? You're not really familiar with the reliability record of VWs that circulate in the US, are you?

Years wouldn't concern me on either Prius, unless it's at the rust-through stage. Only miles are a concern. And with that atmosphere of fear I suspect they might sell for decent prices.

RE: Duh
By flatfour on 6/17/2011 7:57:10 PM , Rating: 1
Its not just the "granola munching hippies" that buy hybrids. If congress is giving tax credits to hybrid buyers, even your average Joe can purchase them, get the tax savings, without having to drink the Koolaid. I know plenty of Prius drivers that bought them on on the recommendation of their accountants. I'm not saying that this is good policy, but merely reality.

RE: Duh
By tng on 6/18/2011 8:54:48 AM , Rating: 2
If congress is giving tax credits to hybrid buyers, even your average Joe can purchase them, get the tax savings, without having to drink the Koolaid.
Really, are you kidding?

Not sure if you think congress giving my money out to the "Average Joe" to buy a hybrid is a good idea or not. It is never a good idea for government to subsidize one thing over another. If JSP can't a afford a hybrid then he should stop spending money on other things so he can save for one.

I know plenty of Prius drivers that bought them on on the recommendation of their accountants.
Lets face it, in allot of cases the stereotype is true. My accountant has a 98 Camry that she thinks is sexy.

RE: Duh
By flatfour on 6/18/2011 3:13:03 PM , Rating: 3
I never said subsidies were a good idea, just that if they're available, people will take them. You can't demonize someone for taking advantage of a program. And for some, saving money at the pump will override concerns about where all the rare earth metals are coming from and what types of pollutants they put out

But yes, many have in fact drank the Koolaid. I was mostly just playing devil's advocate. What do I know though, I drive a sports car that gets <25mpg.

RE: Duh
By chick0n on 6/18/11, Rating: 0
RE: Duh
By YashBudini on 6/20/2011 11:54:12 PM , Rating: 2
where u got that from? out of your ass ?

While your remarks are very Motoman-like (and he would have been uprated for saying the exact same thing you just did) the answer is pretty much yes. Its the "Some people say...." technique that has worked it's magic on the less edjamacted that follow the antics of the News Corp.

RE: Duh
By Motoman on 6/17/2011 6:16:22 PM , Rating: 3
My guess is they don't pass our nanny-state safety regulations.

RE: Duh
By superstition on 6/17/2011 6:35:53 PM , Rating: 3
Vehicles in my list, like the Golf TDI, are available in the US, but only with the less efficient 2.0 engine and without the Bluemotion stuff (and 7 speed DSG for automatic drivers) that helps them get Prius-rivaling efficiency. I doubt VW makes a different chassis and so forth for their UK Golf. Golfs for the US are imported from Germany, where I believe all of them, or at least all the TDIs, are made.

The only safety difference I can think of is that some airbags may be optional overseas and standard on ours. But, in Germany at least, the level of configuration (options) for the Golf greatly exceeds what is available here. Not only are there the more efficient engines, there are more options of every kind.

Some say the reason we haven't seen more of these is the expense of having crash testing done and, especially, meeting our emissions standards. However, vehicles in the UK, as far as I know, have the DPF (diesel particulate filter). You can see at least one of them in my list that specifically mentions the DPF.

RE: Duh
By superstition on 6/17/2011 6:45:05 PM , Rating: 2
Correction to the first sentence. It should read:

Some vehicles in my list, like the Golf TDI, are available in the US, but not with the efficient engines/tech that gives them Prius-rivaling economy.

RE: Duh
By Targon on 6/17/2011 7:54:28 PM , Rating: 1
There is a trade-off in most cars between fuel economy and having a car that has a decently powerful engine. If I had to choose a 160 horsepower at 34 miles per gallon average fuel economy and a 105 horsepower at 42 miles per gallon average fuel economy, I'd go with the 160 horse.

RE: Duh
By mindless1 on 6/17/2011 11:18:45 PM , Rating: 2
... and most people in the US feel exactly the same way, the majority of little econobox cars with 105HP engine were bought by those economically challenged, simply because they cost less.

RE: Duh
By Nemeth782 on 6/18/2011 5:43:59 AM , Rating: 2
Meanwhile, the Prius has 98bhp.

I think the point being made is not that everyone should buy a Golf Bluemotion instead of a Dodge Viper, it is that nobody should ever buy a Prius.

They are More expensive than a bluemotion, less powerful than a bluemotion, less fuel efficient than a bluemotion, uglier than a bluemotion, and more dangerous to the environment than a bluemotion due to the batteries.

RE: Duh
By superstition on 6/18/2011 3:30:20 PM , Rating: 1
Another point that I neglected to make is that larger vehicles like the Passat are available with engines/tech that give them outstanding fuel economy, too.

We're not just talking about small cars. The VW station wagon (called the Jetta Sportwagon in the US) is an example:

VW Golf Estate 1.6 TDI 105PS BlueMotion Manual 5-speed
VW Golf Estate 1.6 TDI 105PS BlueMotion 7speed DSG S Direct shift 7-speed

Both of those beat the Honda Insight:

HONDA Insight 1.3 IMA S 5dr [2009] Continuously Variable

The midsize Passat sedan nearly equals the Insight:

VW Passat Saloon 1.6 CR TDI 105 PS BlueMotion Manual 6-speed

People like to brush off fuel efficient diesels' advantages by dismissing them as merely being relegated to tiny cars, but that's not really the case. Their efficiency can be useful for all vehicle sizes.

RE: Duh
By tng on 6/18/2011 9:11:17 AM , Rating: 2
Speaking for the general public because that is the way you and most of your friends feel is not a good thing.

Where I live 40 to 70 mile commutes (one way) are common (with stop and go traffic, BTW). While many of the people that live in my neighborhood make 6 figures, almost all of them have a cheap fuel efficient, reliable car for doing the commute. Most also have a more powerful, more fun weekend car.

Most of the people I know that would agree with you have a really nice car with more power than they will ever use (+ a huge monthly payment for it) and live paycheck to paycheck in a small cheap apartment.

most people in the US feel exactly the same way

Most people in the US have good sense and probably don't agree with you, however if you know most of the people in the US personally....

RE: Duh
By mindless1 on 6/26/2011 7:02:49 PM , Rating: 2
So you think most people who are financially well off drive little econocars, and most with nice cars live in small cheap apartments?

That... that's some really screwed up logic you have going on, before even considering that most don't drive 40-70 miles in stop and go traffic to get to work.

Let's get back to reality. The reality is most people buy mid to nicer cars so they can drive them, ESPECIALLY so they don't have to be crammed like a sardine into a piece of junk for hours a day, unless they are too impoverished to afford the gasoline which is not much.

Think about it. Even if you get a low 20MPG on a 40 mi commute, versus 30MPG with the econobox car, that's only $2.50 or so difference in gas, pocket change to someone making six figures.

The fact is, "most" people drive the cars with the highest sales rate in the last few years. Imagine that!

RE: Duh
By YashBudini on 6/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: Duh
By Motoman on 6/18/2011 12:37:25 AM , Rating: 2
Oh look, it's the moron who thinks corporations invent themselves and do things without any human intervention.

Go crawl back under your rock. You're getting your stupid all over the internet.

RE: Duh
By YashBudini on 6/18/2011 1:48:58 AM , Rating: 1
Yes, I'm well aware that my addressing your hypocrisy is something you can't deal with in an adult manner.

And now so is everybody else.

RE: Duh
By YashBudini on 6/18/2011 5:08:18 PM , Rating: 1
RE: Duh
By Reclaimer77 on 6/20/2011 4:10:04 PM , Rating: 2
Not surprising words, given the fact that Lincoln was a tyrant who used violence and the military on his own people when they Democratically, and bloodlessly, voted to defend States Rights.

"We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end..."

Oh, you mean the one you started without even ATTEMPTING to negotiate or compromise first? The man who directly caused the deaths of nearly 700,000 of his own citizens lamenting about cruelty. I guess he needed the stovepipe style hat to contain all that irony...

Also Yash, you are aware this was 1864 right? I know you Liberals like to exaggerate the mans greatness, but you're adding being a prophet to his legend as well?

RE: Duh
By YashBudini on 6/20/2011 11:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
Him being a tyrant has nothing to do with his concerns of corporations. Did Eisenhower's remarks about the military industrial complex affect his ability to be president?

Same old generalizations for personal attacks. How many times have I told you I don't vote within that entrenched 2 party system?

RE: Duh
By xyzCoder on 6/17/2011 8:28:24 PM , Rating: 3
People always seem to forget that diesel is a type of hydrocarbon that simply has more energy in it than gasoline (let alone the ethanol mix we current run off of).

The other HUGE factor is the size of the vehicle. I don't doubt that the cars with 80+ MPG are quite a bit smaller/lighter than Americans are willing to buy.

As well, one mustn't forget air quality controls, which frankly are lower in Europe, to a noticeable degree if you consider the air quality in their cities, IMO. The extra tight emissions regulations we have in the US cost us in yet more MPG.

So, although I agree that our hybrids are maybe absurd, I don't think diesel is the answer. Personally, I see biofuel from algae as the best candidate.

RE: Duh
By mindless1 on 6/17/2011 11:28:12 PM , Rating: 2
Your link somewhat contradicts you, while you are making a claim based on volume we don't necessarily care about that, gas is higher based on weight though they are very close.

Historically it is correct that americans don't pick the smallest lightest cars to get highest fuel economy, even though they are usually, substantially cheaper too which is one of the few reasons any of them sold at all in the US.

RE: Duh
By Solandri on 6/18/2011 6:25:20 AM , Rating: 2
Your link somewhat contradicts you, while you are making a claim based on volume we don't necessarily care about that, gas is higher based on weight though they are very close.

Problem is people are comparing gasoline MPG to diesel MPG as if they're equivalent. MPG = miles per gallon - i.e. volume. If we measured mileage based on miles per pound, then you'd be right.

RE: Duh
By mindless1 on 6/25/2011 8:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
^ True, we measure based on MPG, BUT, when it comes to fuel economy they would tend to consider the weight tradeoff because that effects the achieved MPG.

Thus, we don't really care about energy density per gallon, if cars shifted to diesel then the mandates and costs per mile would just shift to take it into account. What supposed "green" minded people and the government are trying to do, is no matter how good the MPG is, try to push people to make it better.

It's arbitrary... even if today we had only 20MPG fleet average, they'd still try to push just beyond what the industry was expected to achieve without that push. MPG doesn't matter, true efficiency and cost does.

RE: Duh
By Alexvrb on 6/18/2011 3:56:57 PM , Rating: 4
1) Unbelted occupant crash test requirements. That's right, we have safety requirements for occupants that refuse to wear a seatbelt. I think it is stupid, but anyway European models do not have this requirement.

2) You could build two slightly different variants of the same car side by side. Just because they're both built in Germany does not mean they have identical safety/suspension/etc.

3) A "gallon" here is not the same as a "gallon" elsewhere. I know you said that they were Imperial gallons, and you were just demonstrating the difference against the Prius. But this can just confuse people further. So be careful with your "MPG" ratings. Looking at the Prius you listed, I can already guess that "72 MPG" would work out to 60 MPG here - and that's just converting to US gallons, not even changing testing methods.

4) Our emissions standards are stricter, especially for the (12+) states that adhere to the more stringent California EPA standards. This applies to gas and diesel engines.

5) 2008+ EPA tests reflect real-world MPG results in US road conditions much better than older EPA testing. If you put those vehicles you listed through the same testing, their rated MPG (even after converting to US gallons) would drop like a rock.

Example: 2007 Toyota Prius. Using EPA numbers, US gallons.

Old (2007-) EPA numbers: 60/55/51 (City / Combined / Highway)
New (2008+) EPA numbers: 48/46/45

I verified by also checking a 2008 Prius, which has the same new numbers as the 2007 (48/46/45).

Bottom line: Do you really think VW, et al are just ruining their US vehicles on purpose, you know so they don't "sell too many cars"? Hogwash.

RE: Duh
By superstition on 6/19/11, Rating: 0
RE: Duh
By superstition on 6/21/2011 12:07:37 AM , Rating: 2
The list was updated to show US MPG:

The vehicles that beat or equal the Prius are given red MPG labels and the vehicles that meet or beat the Insight are given blue.

RE: Duh
By FishTankX on 6/20/2011 10:15:08 AM , Rating: 2
Just would like to comment that in the US diesel is generally more expensive than gasoline (probably reflective of it's higher energy content) and the 'price premium' for diesel over gasoline is similar to the hybrid price premium. So in the long term, running costs might be similar if not the same.

If you account for Diesel's 20% more energy per gallon, then the prius ranks past all of those cars at an 87. If you measured fuel by the pound, then it would be a little clearer. Nevertheless, I support diesel's, as they last forever and cut down on nickle mining and rare earths consumption. But I'm not sure if Americans would go for diesel. There just isn't enough education to get alot of the people buying new cars (the older folks, 50s and up) knowledgable about how diesel is no longer the smoky, smelly fuel it was in the past.

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